Five county school districts seek levy extensions, increases

  • Article by: DAAREL BURNETTE II , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 29, 2011 - 11:27 PM

A record number of state districts are going to voters for money this fall.

A record number of districts across the state, including four in Washington County, will be going to voters on Nov. 8 to renew existing levies or seek levy increases to bring more money into their districts. Responding to cuts from the state, districts are now turning to local voters to keep programs afloat. The following are school levy and budget proposals by Washington County districts:

Stillwater Area

Proposed operating levy increase: from $996.57 per student to $1,465 per student

Total proposed levy: $31.3 million per year

The Stillwater School District is asking voters to approve three levy requests:

• The district wants to replace its existing operating levy, which raises $996.57 per student, with a new levy of $1,465 per student. The current levy expires in 2014. The new levy would be in effect for seven years.

The operating levy increase would cost a homeowner an additional $66.54 a year per $100,000 of home valuation.

• The district also is seeking approval of a new technology levy to provide students with items such as iPods or online textbooks. The levy would allow the district to "ensure all students have access to the same technology regardless of where they go to school," administrators said.

The technology levy would provide the district $982,300 a year, for seven years. It would cost a homeowner $12.22 a year per $100,000 of home valuation.

• A third question will ask voters to approve an $18.1 million bond that would be used to create five new science labs and two science, technology, engineering and math fabrication labs at Stillwater High School, as well as expand the four existing science labs and renovate an existing classroom into a science, technology, engineering and math fabrication lab at Oak-Land Junior High School.

Approval of the bond referendum would cost a homeowner an additional $12.22 a year per $100,000 of home valuation.

North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale

Proposed operating levy change: Extending the existing levy of $833 per student for 10 years.

Total operating levy: $10 million per year.

Although the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District's levy doesn't expire until the end of next school year, the board is going to the community seeking a no-tax-increase renewal of its operating levy through 2022.

If the levy is not renewed, the district would lose about $10 million a year, or about 9 percent of its total annual budget, beginning in 2012-13.

Mahtomedi

Proposed technology levy change: Extending the levy for technology for 10 years.

Total technology levy amount: $614,409 per year.

The Mahtomedi School District's capital projects levy for technology will expire at the end of this school year. The district is asking voters to extend it through 2021.

If the district's proposed capital projects levy for technology passes in November, there will be no net change in the district's levies, said Mark Larson, the district's superintendent.

"We want to maintain the excellence we have and stay within our budgets and that means a renewal at the same rate and a zero-dollar tax increase," Larson said.

The district made several budget reductions last year.

Forest Lake Area

Proposed change in operating levy: Extending the existing levy for an additional five years.

Total operating levy: $6 million per year.

Forest Lake's current operating levy, which generates $725 per pupil, expires at the end of this school year. The district is asking voters to extend the existing levy through 2016. If the levy measure fails, the district will have to cut up to $6 million from its budget next school year.

"The school board felt this wasn't the time to ask voters for a tax increase," said Ross Bennett, the district's spokesman. The district isn't planning any new programs. With the levy renewal "we are hoping to reduce future cuts for next year and following years," Bennett said.

White Bear Lake

Proposed change in operating levy: Extending the existing levy for five years.

Total levy: $14 million per year.

The White Bear Lake School District will ask voters to renew its current levy, which expires at the end of this school year, through 2016. The extension would not mean any tax increase for homeowners.

If the measure fails, the loss of revenue would require "planning to reduce staff, which would increase class sizes, reduce or eliminate programs and close or consolidate school sites," said Marisa Vette, the district's spokeswoman. About 15 percent of the district's revenue comes from this local operating levy.

Daarel Burnette II • 651-735-1695 Twitter: @DaarelStrib

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close